Traveling with teens

Traveling with teens is its own kind of family travel fun. Credit: Cindy Richards/TravelingMom with Teens

A dad I know recently asked a group of women what to pack when he took his teen daughter for their first father/daughter vacation. I said to make sure he brought tampons. But this is advice I’d give any parent traveling with teens.

And no, you don’t need to bring antidepressants (for you).

Traveling with a teenager requires a whole new skill set – just when you think you’ve mastered the art of bringing a baby, a toddler, a child or a tween on vacation, your child ages up and has new needs that need to be met RIGHT NOW.


No More Early Bird

For example, you might have gotten used to being the first in line at the Children’s Museum in every city, because your son woke up at the crack of dawn every day. But guess what? Your teen is not going to be getting up early, no matter how exciting a day you have planned.

And you won’t be going to be any children’s museums.

And that exciting day you planned is, like, so lame.

Late Night Fun

Traveling with teens

Teens want to do different things than younger kids. But everyone likes cupcakes. Credit: Cindy Richards/TravelingMom with Teens

You’re with a teen, so consider her schedule. If you are at Disney World, you can go on rides late at night, and see the fireworks without having to carry a sleepy child home.  The flip side is that your teen might stay up well past YOUR bedtime – this is where a suite comes in handy.

My husband and 2 of our daughters enjoy scary things – movies, haunted houses, cemetery tours. These are often best enjoyed late at night, so try to plan a few things like this.

Indulge Other Passions

Now that my kids are older, I look for more adult pursuits that we all enjoy. My 16 year old loves Shakespeare, so we see plays that we BOTH want to see when we are on vacation. My 20 year old takes a global view, and the Newseum, in Washington, DC  sparked her interest – AND mine.

Hit the Gym

While our teens snooze away, we use the hotel’s gym, go for a run, ride a bicycle. We slip out of the room while they are sleeping or have a room service breakfast (if in that suite) by ourselves.

Driving You Crazy

Traveling with teens

Learning to fold those cool napkin shapes onboard a cruise ship. Credit: Cindy Richards/TravelingMom with Teens

If your teen has her license, she will want to drive.  Teens learn fast that the one behind the wheel has the power – to choose the music, the stops, the speed. It can be refreshing to share the driving duties with another driver, but remember that one of the parents will now have to sit in the back seat. Most adults are used to sitting up front; being relegated to the back takes some adjustment.

Back to the Tampons

Even if your daughter hasn’t gone through puberty yet, she could soon. My neighbor’s son was visiting from France, without his wife, when his daughter had her first period. I ran into him at the drugstore, loaded down with 4 different kinds of tampons, pads, panty liners, and a look of panic. I told him what to buy (Super Plus for a first timer? Uh, no) and calmed him down.

But even with my own 3 daughters, I’ve learned that I need to be prepared. We were at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort and I had only my emergency tampon. One of my girls got her period, and we had to buy a $12 box of tampons, plus pads. Don’t let it happen to you.